Sunday, May 01, 2011

Gehry: "You have to rise above" the excuses in architecture

In the May 2011 issue of The Atlantic, under the rubric How Genius Works, several innovators are interviewed, among them architect Frank Gehry.

The brief interview focuses on the design for the building for the New World Symphony in Miami, but there are resonances for those of us who remember his role in Atlantic Yards.

Gehry begins:
ARCHITECTURE IS A SERVICE BUSINESS. An architect is given a program, budget, place, and schedule. Sometimes the end product rises to art—or at least people call it that.
After discussing his methods, Gehry concludes:
Look, architecture has a lot of places to hide behind, a lot of excuses. “The client made me do this.” “The city made me do this.” “Oh, the budget.” I don’t believe that anymore. In the end, you have to rise above them. You have to say you solved all that. You’re bringing an informed aesthetic point of view to a visual problem. You have freedom, so you have to make choices—and at the point when I make a choice, the building starts to look like a Frank Gehry building. It’s a signature.
In the case of the Atlantic Yards arena, Gehry's building, according to Forest City Ratner, was too big to be financed and, I'd add, it was integrated with the surrounding towers in a way that would not be feasible if the developer took many more years to build them.

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